The Lord’s Love for Israel
11 When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
The more they were called,
the more they went away;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals
and burning offerings to idols.
Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk;
I took them up by their arms,
but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of kindness,
with the bands of love,
and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws,
and I bent down to them and fed them.
They shall not return to the land of Egypt,
but Assyria shall be their king,
because they have refused to return to me.
The sword shall rage against their cities,
consume the bars of their gates,
and devour them because of their own counsels.
My people are bent on turning away from me,
and though they call out to the Most High,
he shall not raise them up at all.
How can I give you up, O Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me;
my compassion grows warm and tender.
I will not execute my burning anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and not a man,
the Holy One in your midst,
and I will not come in wrath.
They shall go after the LORD;
he will roar like a lion;
when he roars,
his children shall come trembling from the west;
they shall come trembling like birds from Egypt,
and like doves from the land of Assyria,
and I will return them to their homes, declares the LORD.
Ephraim has surrounded me with lies,
and the house of Israel with deceit,
but Judah still walks with God
and is faithful to the Holy One.
Hosea 11 Commentary
by Hank Workman
“When Israel was a youth I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son. I took them in My arms; But they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of a man, with bonds of love, and I became to them as one who lifts the yoke from their jaws; and I bent down and fed them. My heart is turned over within Me, all My compassions are kindled.”Hosea 11:1,3-4,8
The inner turmoil God the Father feels toward his children bears extreme sorrow. Even though the people have turned away from Him, sought other gods, practiced things that bring His punishment, His heart is overturned. His sorrow great as His love reaches to depths of compassion.
We can never grasp the depth of God’s compassion and sorrow for our own lives. The lives we selfishly live, decidedly choose to follow over and over, as the passage says, “His heart is overturned within Me.” Repeatedly God had offered to restore the nation back if they would only turn to Him. And continually God offers the same for us. His longing great, his compassion rekindled if we would only respond.
The image of the waiting Father standing at the fence post looking down that dusty path of which his prodigal son had left the homestead is haunting. He never gave up hope. He waited in expectation of a return, knowing his son would be marked with so many stripes against his heart from the choices he made. Innocence stripped through his decisions, violations against the God he had known, would still be met with arms of love, new clothes and restoration if he would just return. The father made the journey each day to the end of the property and watched, leaning heavily upon the rung, watching, hoping, longing.
For the children of Israel, for the lost today, for us – He does the same. He loves us. He longs for us. His compassion ever present. He’s simply waiting for our return where He will wrap us in His arms.
Hosea 11 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
As a father, I can understand these same feelings. I can’t imagine the grief of watching my daughter run off and leave me after I had raised and taken care of her. The verses here talk of how this child worshiped others, played with toy gods, and then refused to give credit to the one who had brought him up. This is absolutely heart-wrenching, and any parent knows this would be unbearable.
There is a time and place for letting go and for true discipline to take place. It is such a hard thing, but there is truth in allowing others to experience the world and come running back. Even though Israel deserved this punishment, we know that God’s letting go is a path to redemption because He promises to make everything right in the end.
I will not execute my burning anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath.Hosea 11:9 ESV
“How shall I deliver thee, Israel?” My friend, God has no other way to save you except by the death of Christ. You may think you have two or three different ways yourself, but God has but one way. Since He says, “There is no Saviour beside me” (Hos 13:4), you had better listen to Him. You and I are not in the saving business, but He is.”J. Vernon McGee
How can God choose to forgive?
“The longsuffering, forgiveness, and compassion of the Lord toward His people seems unbelievable until we recognize that He is not man, but God. His love and forgiveness are of a different order. There are many differences between God and man in the matter of forgiveness.”David Guzik